Convertering.  Over many months, Primo served me primarily as USB bridge into my Keces S3 which is a terrific DAC with headfi. In this employ, Primo acted so surprisingly high-end that any motivation to also test its DAC was absent. But the commitment of reviewing it did force the issue. Now my reluctance found itself both justified and abused. Yes, the €1'500 Keces and €3'600 Norma DACs both did more so purely on listening pleasure, moving down to the small Italian wasn't really called for. Yet the distance to the bigger decks was far smaller than feared. Mostly the treble softened (calling it washed out exaggerates) and the overall impression reduced a bit on excitement and transparency. But outright weaknesses only factored by their sheer absence. I'd simply say that compared to its exceptional showing as a streaming bridge, DAC usage scaled down a bit but without doubt still will kill typical PC/laptop + 3-digit DACs. Sonically I gave WLAN the nose over a wired 1TB Samsung SSD drive. During my DAC adventures, wireless via Minim Server registered as a tad more open and energetic but these feeds were clearly not worlds but only whiskers apart.

Conclusion. A small sticker on the jersey, a big high-end heart pumping athletically beneath it. As a pure streamer bridge, Volumio's Primo will enthuse even picky audiophiles whose racks house wildly costlier components. Particularly for listeners who prioritize 'analog' virtues and gladly sacrifice a bit of treble shimmer, the exceptionally pure colors, sonorous fluidity and categorical absence of hardness or grain should hit a bull's eye or two.

The internal DAC doesn't quite keep up at the same exalted standards but as a complete solution, Primo will surprise those who presently run a more or less high-fidelity DAC off a plain laptop and maintain the futile belief that 1s and 0s are all the same. Granted, lacking any and all switches and lights is just a bit nerdy but was perfectly made up for by usage stability—I encountered zero crashes or hang-ups—and a user-friendly app and browser skin which include convenient help screens.

Additionally impressive was the feature set of Tidal, Qobuz, Highresaudio, Logitech, Roon, Internet radio, DSD512, PCM up to 768kHz and comprehensive socketry. Except for XLR, I lacked for nothing. Last but not least, a shout-out is due for mechanical integrity by way of sturdy chassis-mount not PCB-seated connectors. Here even far pricier gear often takes the cheaper way out.